Man Kills 3 at Jewish Centers in Kansas City Suburb

A man opened fire outside a Jewish Community Center and a nearby retirement community in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday afternoon, killing three people before he was taken into custody.

The man was identified as Frazier Glenn Cross of Aurora, Mo., in Johnson County booking records. He was charged with first-degree murder and was scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon.

The suspect, 73, is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of anti-Semitism and racism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups. It identified him as Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, commonly known as Glenn Miller, and said he was the founder and grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The shootings took place in Overland Park, Kan., a major suburb located just across the state line from Kansas City, Mo. Overland Park is the second-biggest city in Kansas and has a population of about 170,000.

A doctor and his 14-year-old grandson were killed in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and a woman was killed a short time later in a parking lot at Village Shalom, a senior living community about a mile away, the police said.

Mr. Miller was taken into custody on Sunday afternoon at a local elementary school near Village Shalom, the police said. In video taken by KMBC, a local television station, the suspect yelled “Heil Hitler!” while sitting in a police car.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it sued Mr. Miller in the 1980s for intimidating African-Americans, and he has had several run-ins with the law since then. He served six months in prison after he was held in criminal contempt for violating the terms of the court order that settled that lawsuit. He also served three years in federal prison for weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the assassination of the center’s founder, Morris Dees. As part of his plea bargain, he testified against other Klan leaders in a 1988 trial.

The police said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the attacks were a hate crime.

Mr. Miller made several unsuccessful runs for public office, including a bid for the Senate in 2010. He kept a website where he espoused views of white supremacy and eschewed racial mixing. He was a fan of David Duke, a white nationalist and a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and Louis Farrakhan, the former leader of the Nation of Islam who blamed Jews for slavery in America.

In a 2010 interview with Howard Stern, the radio shock jock, who is Jewish, Mr. Miller was asked who he hated more, Jews or African-Americans. Mr. Miller answered “Jews. A thousand times more. Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions.”

Prodded to explain, he said Jews controlled the federal government, mass media and the Federal Reserve Bank. “And with those powers, they’re committing genocide against the white race,” he said.

In the same interview, Mr. Miller said he had “a great deal of respect for Muslim people” and called Adolf Hitler “the greatest man who ever walked the earth.”

Heidi Beirich, the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, said she spoke with Mr. Miller’s wife, Marge, on Sunday and Ms. Miller said that the police told her that her husband had been arrested as the gunman.

Ms. Miller, who has no apparent ties to the white supremacist community, according to Ms. Beirich, told her that she last saw her husband at about 3 p.m. on Saturday, when he left to go to a casino. He called her at about 10:30 on Sunday morning to say that his winnings were up, Ms. Beirich said, and that was the last Ms. Miller heard of him. At a news conference several hours after the shootings, the Overland Park police chief, John Douglass, said that the suspect was not a local resident and was not known to the Police Department before Sunday’s attacks.

“Today is a very sad and tragic day,” Chief Douglass said. “There are no words to express the senselessness of what happened this afternoon.”

When asked at a news conference whether Mr. Miller had yelled “Heil Hitler!” as he was arrested, Chief Douglass said it was too early to discuss what the suspect did or did not say.

Two of the victims were identified on Sunday night as Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Griffin Underwood. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School and an Eagle Scout, according to a statement from their family. Dr. Corporon was a “well-loved physician in the Johnson County community,” and he and his wife had been married for almost 50 years. Both victims were members of the nearby United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

President Obama released a statement on Sunday evening, saying he offered his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims.

“I have asked my team to stay in close touch with our federal, state and local partners and provide the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation,” he said. “While we do not know all of the details surrounding today’s shooting, the initial reports are heartbreaking.”

The Anti-Defamation League called the attacks a “cowardly, unspeakable and heinous act of violence.”

“While it is too early to label these shootings as a hate crime, the fact that two Jewish institutions were targeted by the same individual just prior to the start of the Passover holiday is deeply troubling and certainly gives us pause,” Karen Aroesty, the group’s St. Louis regional director, said in a statement.

The attacks came during an unusually busy day at the Jewish Community Center, because first-round auditions were planned for the afternoon for a singing competition called KC SuperStar. When the shooting was reported around 1 p.m., more than 100 people fled into a hall inside the center, where they were held for about an hour and a half.

A high school student, Sophia Porter, arrived at the center for her singing audition only five minutes after the shooting. Sophia, 17, said she saw police cars arriving before she was ushered into the lockdown area with dozens of adults and children.

“I was definitely shellshocked when I heard what had happened,” she said. “It was horrifying to think of the person who would be responsible for that.”

The Jewish Community Center is the main hub for about 20,000 Jewish people living in the Kansas City metropolitan area, said Herbert Mandl, a retired rabbi and a local police chaplain.

“It’s a very trying time for the community,” he said. “We’ll pull together. We’ll survive.”

The attacks started at a parking lot in the back of the sprawling community center near a theater, the police said. The suspect fired several shots and left. Several minutes later, an emergency call came from the retirement community reporting shots fired.

Images from local television stations showed a heavyset, bearded man wearing glasses being led away in handcuffs by police officers.

Mr. Mandl said he thought it was “suspicious” that both of the targets were places used mostly by the Jewish community, but said he understood that officials were being cautious in determining a motive.

Village Shalom representatives said Sunday evening that they had few details about what had happened. The retirement community was established in 1912 by a benevolent society of Orthodox Jews in Kansas City, according to their website. The campus has a cafe with kosher food, a dental clinic, a day spa and a library.

At the Jewish Community Center, the back doors had substantial damage from gunfire, the police said. The center released a statement on Sunday evening saying it would be closed on Monday.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day,” the statement read. “Our heartfelt gratitude as well to all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support.”